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    Why Was It So Warm Wednesday?

    By John Marsh
    March 11, 2012, 11:16:43 PM EDT

    Even though there are still nearly two weeks of winter left this year, Wednesday felt like spring had already sprung for parts of the U.S.

    "The unseasonably warm weather is mainly in the East and across the Plains," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards said. "It's not bad out in California, but it's cooler up in the northern Plains, the northern Rockies and the Four Corners region. The widespread warmth has mainly been across the central East."

    Warm air being pushed up from the tropics and the Gulf has caused warm temperatures today.

    "The reason you have all this warmth is due to a large area of high pressure at the surface that's set up off the East Coast," said Edwards. "So, the flow around that high pressure system is clockwise and it pumps in a lot of warmer air from the south. Warm air comes up from the Gulf region and from the tropics. All that warm is being funneled up into the Ohio valley, the Tennessee valley, the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast."

    With the warmer air, precipitation will also move in on Thursday.

    "The warm air is out ahead of a front approaching from the West which will bring some rain to a lot of places Thursday," said Edwards. "It will start to rain first in western New England and western parts of the mid-Atlantic. That will transition into the rest of the Northeast and remainder of the mid-Atlantic Thursday evening."

    Today's warm weather set record high temperatures and provided above-average warmth for parts of the U.S. At the AccuWeather Global Headquarters in State College, Pa., for example, the temperature was 23°F higher than the normal high temperature for March 7.

    "There have been some record highs reported today, especially in Pennsylvania and New York," said Edwards. "Dubois, Pa., set a record today, as did Watertown and Rochester, N.Y. We're seeing scattered record-high temperatures mainly across the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast."

    Parts of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma will receive some rain and severe weather on Thursday.

    Looking Ahead

    Weekend temperatures are not expected to be as warm as the middle of this week.

    "It will turn cooler for Friday into Saturday as another area of high pressure builds in behind that front," said Edwards. "But, temperatures will moderate again as we get into Sunday and early next week ahead of another storm."

    While the weekend may be cooler, much of the U.S. will experience unseasonable warmth throughout next week.

    "The opportunity for any kind of wintry precipitation is slowly dwindling," said Edwards. "In the near term, we don't really see any kind of winter weather on the horizon. After the brief cool temperatures this weekend, we'll see another warm snap next week."

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